Today we're going to take a look at Seeed Studio's Odyssey X86J4105—a maker/builder-tailored, Celeron-powered mini-PC. The little device seems like what you'd get if a Chromebox and a Raspberry Pi made sweet, sweet love—it's a Celeron-powered all-in-one system-on-chip (SoC) board, sold without a case, with Raspberry Pi-compatible GPIO headers and an Arduino coprocessor for more hardware-based maker projects.
I have a confession to make: I've never really loved the Raspberry Pi. Heresy, I know! But despite how seriously cheap the much-loved little boxes are, they never seem quite powerful enough for the projects I'd be interested in tackling. On occasion, I've flirted with other ARM mini-PCs that are a little more expensive and a lot more powerful—like Odroid XU4, or the newer Odroid N2—but they still felt pretty constrained compared to even budget x86 PCs. The Odyssey seems tailor-made to address those performance concerns.
Specifications and capabilities
|Specs at a glance: Odyssey X86J4105|
|OS||Windows 10 Enterprise (activated)|
|CPU||Quad-core Celeron J4105|
|GPU||integrated Intel UHD 600|
|Wi-Fi||Dual-band Intel 9650 Wi-Fi 5 + Bluetooth 5.0|
|SSD||Sandisk 64GB (59.6GiB) eMMC|
|Price as tested||Odyssey with activated Win10 Enterprise: $258
Seeed re_computer case: $20
Seeed Studio Odyssey X86J4105 Mini PC
Odyssey's quad-core Celeron SoC might not be a powerhouse by desktop standards—but it's more than powerful enough to run a full Windows 10 desktop experience. Add in 8GiB of RAM, 64GB eMMC storage, one SATA-III port, two 1Gbps Ethernet jacks, dual M.2 slots (one B-key and one M-key), Intel 9560 Wi-Fi, Intel UHD 600 graphics and a full-size HDMI port, and it's hard to figure out what this $260 box can't do.
If you're looking to control other hardware on a very low level, Odyssey also has a Raspberry Pi-compatible 40-pin GPIO header and a 28-pin header for its ATSAMD21 Arduino coprocessor. We're not set up to test those functions, but Odyssey maker Seeed is also the manufacturer of the well-reputed Grove sensor system—so when it tells us that the Odyssey's connectors and coprocessor are Grove-compatible, we're inclined to believe them.
When it comes to form factor, the Odyssey in its re_computer case reminds us most of an unusually geeky Chromebox. Like the Chromebox, Odyssey in the re_computer case is just larger than the VESA mounting plate on the back of a monitor—and also like the Chromebox, it has VESA compatible mounting holes on the back. You'll need to provide your own mounting studs if you want to take advantage of that option, though.
The re_computer case was frankly a little bit of a pain to assemble—the provided instructions consist of unlabeled diagrams only, and the diagrams aren't all accurate. In particular, we wished that they'd told us up front that the clear top lid of the re_computer was magnetically attached! The box lists the lid in the inventory as a separate part, but it's already snapped into the case itself, and it's not immediately clear that you can pry it loose easily with a spudger or other fine-edged tool.
Once you actually get the re_computer case assembled, it's extremely attractive and functional. Any of the parts you need to mess with can be accessed by removing the magnetically attached clear lid, and the external ports are all easy to get to and unobscured. We also really like the cheerful royal blue that the sides of the case are anodized with.
What can you do with an Odyssey?
Odyssey's punchy Celeron J4105 processor is backed by plenty of RAM, storage, network, and graphics capabilities. Whether you prefer to run Windows or Linux, it can handle tasks that the CPU- and IO-limited Raspberry Pi series struggles with. If you want to build a high-end DIY router, it has dual gigabit Ethernet—and the J4105 CPU is significantly more powerful than the 1037U in our own Homebrew router.
If you're looking to build a Kodi or similar home theater PC system, the J4105 and its UHD 600 graphics are more than up to the task, at least up to 1080P—4K is passable, but some videos will exhibit a little frame drop. In our testing, 4K videos on Vimeo played flawlessly; 4K on YouTube was watchable but noticeably dropped a frame here and there.
You can even make a miniature fileserver out of the Odyssey. It offers one M.2 PCIe 2.0 x4 slot that can accommodate a high-performance NVMe SSD and one full-size SATA-III connector that can be connected to any standard SATA drive. Add that full-speed, reliable connectivity to the 8GiB onboard RAM, and you've got enough machine to run FreeNAS, XigmaNAS, or the upcoming TrueNAS Core.
Finally, you can just make a very usable desktop computer out of it. The version we tested came pre-installed with a fully activated Windows 10 Enterprise—it can be run by itself or joined to a domain. You can also buy the Odyssey without the Windows 10 license, if you prefer a Linux desktop.
If whatever use case you've landed on needs cellular connectivity, Odyssey has you covered there as well—its M.2 B-keyed port can accommodate an LTE module (not included), and there's a SIM card socket as well.